I need a summary and explanation of "The Road not Taken."  I also need a critical appreciation of the poem.

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shake99 | Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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“The Road Not Taken” is a very popular example of symbolism. Almost everyone encounters this poem at some point in high school.

As the poem opens, the speaker is standing in a “yellow” wood looking toward a place where two roads “diverge.” He wishes he could travel down both, but since he is only one person he cannot. So he makes a choice and travels down one of the roads, although there is really no significant difference between the two, as he indicates with “and both that morning equally lay/in leaves no step had trodden black.”

Then he states that maybe he’ll come back and take the other road someday, but considering how life goes, probably not.

At the end he says that his choice of roads will make “all the difference” in his life, even though he doesn’t know at this point if he’s making a good decision or not.

When you read the poem, you have to realize that the roads symbolize a choice of which way to go in life. Frost is saying that he has to make a choice at this point in his life, but that he has very little information to go on and doesn’t really know which decision to make. He makes a decision anyway, and then thinks about how he’ll feel about that decision one day. He knows it will make a difference in his life and wishes there was a way to try out both decisions, but knows that life won’t work out that way.

 

One of the notable things about this poem is the strong sense of indecision that Frost imparts. It’s very like real life. We often have to make decisions over which we anguish and experience self-doubt.

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